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Partying with Jesus (A discourse on John 12:1-11)
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a enclosure of costly perfume made of genuine nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The abode was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this redolence not sold for three hundred denarii and the pecuniary given to the poor?” 6(He vocal this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the average purse and used to purloin what was put into it.
) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
She bought it so that she might own it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always own me.
” 9When the goodly company of the Jews prudent that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but further to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
10So the important priests tactical to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
I heard acquaint of a dinner group that took calling to celebrate the 50th conjugal anniversary of a particular couple, and all their young and friends were there, including the couple’s only daughter – now a middle-aged noblewoman herself – and as the eventide progressed and as speeches were made, the daughter was struck by the system that her father always referred to her mother as ‘dear’ or ‘sweetie’ or ‘honey’. When she got a moment alone with him she vocal to him, “Dad, I deficiency to apprise you that I am really touched by the fashion you always touch to mum using affectionate those terms – ‘sweetie’ and ‘dear’ and ‘honey’”, to which her father replied, “well … it might be different if I could reasonable remember her damn name!”
Things are not always as they appear. This is article that we are all known with. I don’t mean to suggest that we are all confidential with forgetting our partner’s expression (though others who keep taken as many hits to the head as I have taken may be struggling in that department) but I distrust we are all close with those sorts of dinner parties where things are warm and generous on the surface but where under there are a absolute heap of fresh things going on.
Our Gospel itemizing today depicts reasonable such a dinner group – a lovely amiable mob in Bethany that was put together for Jesus by three of his boon friends – Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus.
Lazarus, if you remember, was the comrade Jesus famously raised from the dead, and it appears that this dinner may unquestionably keep been organised, at least in part, to celebrate that incredible incident, as Lazarus appears to be seated alongside Jesus.
At any rate, however we construct the background to this particular party, it had all the hallmarks of a cultivated and festive occasion.
But things happened that night at the home of Mary and Martha – things that revealed what was really going on underneath the surface of this warm and festive occasion!
Mary took a enclosure of costly aroma made of genuine nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The quarters was filled with the scent of the perfume.
This is the event that totally transforms the party!
What was Mary doing?!
In terms of abstract behaviour for a hostess, her actions are as tiring to excuse as they are to explain.
This data of a woman anointing the feet of Jesus with emollient and wiping His feet with her hair turns up in all four of our Gospels, and no wonder it stuck in the minds of each of those who recorded the stories of Jesus.
The circumstance is outrageous!
It would inert be outrageous if it happened today.
I won’t needle trying to get you to imagine a matching item circumstance at one of our church barbeques, with some local lass coming up and pouring unguent all over the feet of me or one of the wardens as it is derisory to think that such a item could ever happen! Do you reckon it was any less derisive and unimaginable in top century Judea?
What was she thinking? We are told that Mary had around half a kilo of ‘real nard’, which is intended to ascertain it from the fake nard that you could pluck up at the Bethany markets for a duo of shekels.
Real nard apparently came from the mountains of northern India which explains why it was so expensive, and it’s suggested that the amount Mary poured out that night would hold been worth the counterpart of a year’s fee for a average working person!
Mary’s motility is outrageously exorbitant, though at the twin case it is a mouthful cheap, or at least she seems to be cheapening herself in the way she performs – falling all over Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair!
As I say, it would be unimaginably outrageous were this to occure in the context of one of our have formal dinners.
Can you imagine how this would go down in a culture where women were never permitted to contract their hair down in public?!
I message that this year they’ve had to re-route the Palestinian Marathon so that it by-passes Gaza as the Hamas authorities in Gaza, being conservative religious people, entrust not permit men and women to run together! They weren’t permitted to run together in Jesus’ day either! They weren’t permitted to run together and they weren’t permitted to even prate together in public. Women positively weren’t permitted to drop all over a man’s feet in civic and rub them with their hair!
In Luke’s retelling of this data (or, at least we suppose it is a retelling of the corresponding incident) the countess is unnamed and aptly referred to as ‘a sinner’ (Luke 7:36) – the assumption being that she is a sex-worker. This would be the regular assumption you would make if you maxim a young lady behave in this way!
Was this object that happened spontaneously? Surely Mary hadn’t shrewd on behaving like this? Was it impartial her gratitude to Jesus for having restored the life of her fiancee brother or was it supplementary than that? Was she besotted with Jesus?
The end solution seems intuitively enticing of course, and it fits with the earlier information we get of Mary (in Luke 10:38-42), sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His teachings.
We can think her sitting there, starry-eyed, besotted with Jesus.
Poor thing! She was only young. How could she resist falling in heart with Jesus? Even so, surely she could own shown a rarely greater self-control in the procedure she expressed that love.
Now I appreciate that I am starting to speculate, and possibly we shouldn’t make too many assumptions about Mary’s emotional state.
Even so, Mary’s actions are hard to understand, and the only entity harder to divine in this report than Mary’s outrageous word of heart is why Jesus doesn’t put a desist to it for the advantage of Mary and for the wellbeing of the stop of her progeny (even if He wasn’t worried about His retain reputation)!
The sensation of the disciples is a scarcely additional predictable.
Judas is credited as being the one to actually voice disapproval, though I believe that each one of the disciples of Jesus would posses been squirming in his seat.
Judas – ever the one for political accuracy – makes no allusion to the sensual attitude of Mary’s actions but only refers to her outrageous extravagance: “Why was this bouquet not sold for three hundred denarii and the budgetary given to the poor?” (John 12:5)
Judas’ comment once again reveals that there are things going on under the surface of this dinner party.
There are tensions between Jesus and the disciples, and there were obviously tensions between the disciples themselves!
The Gospel writer adds a parenthetical comment of his retain at this point, explaining that Judas didn’t really present a damn about poor but was interested in keeping the pecuniary for himself, and this comment does certainly assistance fill out the delineation of greed and betrayal that was underlying the mirthful party-scene.
Even so, this should not distract us from the fact that Judas’ dispute in and of itself was a pretty sake one! Indeed, if it hadn’t been for John’s comments and for Jesus’ passion you’d be forgiven for thinking, ‘hey, the disciples are really starting to get the message!’
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